Montana Gender Pay Gap Front And Center At Summit

May 3, 2016

Montana’s gender pay gap was center stage Tuesday in Bozeman. On average, women in Montana earn 67 percent of what men do. Much of the discussion at the Equal Pay Summit focused on transparency when it comes to wages.

"Everybody should certainly be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work."

Gov. Steve Bullock started day two of the summit by telling the crowd that he and the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force will work to pass a pay equity bill in the next legislative session. A similar bill failed to make it out of committee in 2015.

Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy sits on the task force and says they’ve lowered the wage gap one percentage point but more needs to be done.

"If you turn in an identical resume with Joe and Jennifer, Joe exponentially gets the job, and a higher pay than Jennifer. But I think even more important is to look at that over a lifetime of a woman’s earning ... it actually adds up to between $434,000 and $675,000. So that’s a woman living on half a million dollars less than her male counterpart."

The summit’s keynote address came from Dr. Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL who said achieving equality in the workplace has to be a joint effort between men and women.

"This is so important to every woman in here. They will test you. If they can get away with it easy, guess what? They think you’re not equal. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about status, or you're talking about pay. If they can chase you off, they would. You cannot let them use your gender against you. And you have to have guys who will advocate for you. And those men have to have your back so if you’re not sitting at the table and they hear it, they can stop it."

Welter said she’s proud that now little girls can dream of coaching in the NFL and one day even playing. She hopes more businesses and organizations will follow suit in treating men and women equally.

"If the men in the National Football League can put a woman on equal footing with the men, then can’t we all?"